To this day, when my family gets together, eventually the conversation will make it around to the story of moving to Shepherd’s Fold, or the story of who got in trouble on the car trip, who got left behind at the gas station and yes, we’ll even tell the sad and funny stories of my dad and the loss of his legs to diabetes in the 90’s.
These stories, like traditions, are the glue that hold our family together. It’s stories like these that we turn to that reaffirm who we are and who we belong to. It’s stories like these that make us…us.
You’re the same way. Stories are the traditions that hold your family together too. Did your family always get a fake Christmas tree or a real one? Did your family always root for OU or OSU? Did you guys live in the city or the country? Coke or Pepsi? These are your stories. They are the things resonate with you and affirm your “tribal membership.”
There are stories that cement you as a Baptist or a Democrat a quilter or a bowler. Stories about hunting or fishing or golfing or running that light you up and make you proud you’re a member. There are stories that Mac owners tell and stories told by fans of the Chicago Cubs. All our tribes are tightened because of the stories we tell one another.
Much of the time, the stories are out of your control. When the car breaks down on the family vacation and you had to get a ride into town with that weird guy named “Wally,” that’s a story out of your control.
But sometimes…you actually get to control the story.
When you make a tradition of having dinner in the evenings as a family, that’s a story you control. When you faithfully tuck in your kids to bed every-single-night, that’s a story you control. When you take the family caroling at the nursing home every Christmas season or volunteer at the mission serving the Thanksgiving meal, those are stories you control. And those memorable stories will be told around the virtual and real campfires of your family lodge for years to come.
Stories teach lessons, they reaffirm family values, they remind us of what we hold dear. Sadly, “Storyteller” has largely disappeared from the “Mom” or “Dad” job description in the recent decade. We’ve become too busy with things that a multitude of blogs have detailed long before now. We crash land back home in the evening with barely the energy to eat dinner, much less prepare it. We zone out in front of the television until we drag ourselves to bed.
Maybe it’s time for you to become the family storyteller. Gather the kids around and tell them the story of your first date. Tell them about that fumble you made in high school football or the teacher you had who made such a difference in your life. Tell them about your weird uncle or your grandfather who served in the war. Tell them about the first time you encountered the God of the Universe. Tell them why you got married. Tell them why you wanted to have children. These are the words that will hold you together. These stories are like great cables that bind your family tightly.
So what if you don’t have any stories? What if you don’t think you can tell a story? I’m sure you can do it. But if you’re still not convinced, start by reading to your family! There are hundreds of great books that are great to read to your kids. Sure it’s a discipline. But like all discipline…it’s good for you, and good for your kids.
If you’re having trouble finding a good book to start with, try this one!
Make a difference. Take the time to tell stories.